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Article updated: 4/3/2013 9:05 AM

Fox & Hound unveils new decor, menu items at suburban taverns

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Fox & Hound is looking to freshen things up and is using the Chicago area as its testing ground before rolling out the changes to its other 79 locations across the country.

"You always have to constantly reinvent yourself to make sure you remain relevant," said CEO Marc Buelher.

New menus and décor have already launched in Schaumburg, Bloomingdale and Arlington Heights, focusing on fresh foods, local beers and entertainment meant to make it a place anyone can hang out.

Motif: The bar area at the Arlington Heights location, 910 W. Dundee Road, features banks of huge TVs and a mix of booths and long communal tables. A pool area has more TVs and walls lined with sports photos along with a Golden Tee machine and oversized Jenga and Connect Four games. The third room is perfect for families who were playing Ping-Pong and dining at a mix of booths and high top tables on the night we visited. There's also a pair of couches where you can play sports games on Xbox.

Crowd: Fox & Hound brings in an eclectic mix, with plenty of local workers coming in for lunch, families flocking for dinner and the crowd turning younger later on. Communal tables get very friendly during sports games as groups of fans chat and cheer with each other. T-shirts are welcome, but there are plenty of patrons sporting nicer duds.

Food: For starters go with the jacked-up cheese wedges, a novel take on cheese sticks that features hand-breaded big chunks of pepper jack cheese served on a cheeseboard with a cup of sweet and slightly spicy jalapeño jelly sauce. The Ultimate burger is one of the most popular new entrees, a mix of beef and chorizo stuffed with guacamole, jalapeños and pepper jack cheese and topped with spicy mayo. It's nicely presented with giant onion rings topping the knife stuck through the sandwich and a side of hot fluffy fries in a metal cup. The burger is so juicy you'll want plenty of napkins, and the onion rings are also great, very sweet with a crispy shell. If you're looking for something a bit lighter the black forest is a good option, with grilled turkey and crispy bacon served on a nice warm bun. For a decadent finisher, try the fresh baked cookie skillet. Drizzled with chocolate syrup and served with ice cream, it tastes like delicious warm cookie dough.

Liquid consumption: The beer selection is extensive, with 35 on tap and more by the bottle. A beer menu helps make the options less daunting, offering images of each label and descriptions of everything so you can choose a taste you'll like from among the list, which includes Allagash White and New Holland Mad Hatter. All drafts are $2 Tuesdays, which brings in plenty of drinkers to enjoy the great deal.

If you're more of a cocktail drinker, there's a new menu emphasizing fresh ingredients like The Book Store, a blend of gin, basil, lime juice and cherries that's slightly tart and takes plenty of flavor from the herb. The Whiskey Peach is like a fruity mint julep, sweet but not overwhelmingly so and served with a big chunk of fruit in it.

Service: Our server was friendly and quick with recommendations for both drinks and food. She was knowledgeable about the menu and happy to describe dishes we were curious about.

Music: You can make your own music at karaoke nights Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Parking: There are plenty of spots in a large free lot.

Overall: Fox & Hound proves change can be very good.

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